BPL hires outreach worker for homeless people flocking to Copley Square library

The mayor's office today announced it's hired away an outreach worker from the Pine Street Inn to help the homeless people who have found the remodeled Copley Square main library as attractive as other users.

BPL is also hiring a full-time reference librarian specializing in health and human-services issues to help homeless people in the library, Mayor Walsh's office said.

Although new outreach worker Mike Bunch started work this week in Copley Square, the city says he "will assist patrons at library locations throughout the City in most demand." Until this week, the most visible library outreach to homeless people in Copley Square consisted of security guards roaming the library and waking up anybody they found asleep at a desk or table.

In a statement, BPL President David Leonard said:

The BPL is committed to providing all patrons, regardless of status, with the critical assistance they need, and the hire of the outreach manager is a significant "first" for the BPL and will connect library users with the right resources to help them move forward.



    Free tagging: 


    If they're sleeping, then let

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    If they're sleeping, then let them sleep. Don't wake them up if they're not bothering anyone. There's no place else for them to go and these people are friggin' exhausted and probably sick and need sleep. Shelters kick u out after breakfast. Outreach tactics will not work on someone whose emotions are ragged due to lack of consistent sleep and having to sleep sitting up with one eye open on your shit so nobody lifts it. Been there.

    Sorry, but no

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    As empathetic as I am to the plight of the homeless, we cannot have random people, often in a state of intoxication, just sleeping in public places that were not intended or designed for sleeping and in which others are conducting the business for which the place was designed. That is not how a civilized society operates.

    I don't see it

    I don't understand how there's any difference in civility, or in impact on other library users, between me, sitting in an overstuffed armchair reading a book, versus me, 15 minutes later, asleep with the same book on my lap. (Unless, of course, I am snoring loudly or something) There was even a library in my college, down the hall from the main reading room, that was generally referred to as the "main sleeping room" due to the extreme comfort of is chairs.

    The only reason for the "no sleeping rule" in the library is to provide a justification for kicking out the "undesirables"

    Practices. Training. Boston Public Library.

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    What are Boston Public Library a) Staff and b) uniformed patrol actual practices in responding to sleeping, napping, resting the eyes, etc.?

    What training c) for Staff and d) for uniformed patrol provides resources for interacting with Boston Public Library Visitors sleeping, napping, resting the eyes, etc.?

    It isn't just sleeping

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    "The only reason for the "no sleeping rule" in the library is to provide a justification for kicking out the 'undesirables'"

    It isn't just sleeping. The sleeping people eventually wake up and often engage in inappropriate behavior. Sometimes it's stretching out on the floor, sometimes it's slobbering and staggering all over. Sometimes they sleep with their heads down on a table which is intimidating to others who may need to share the table. There is often body odor. I once saw a homeless man in the Copley Library sitting at a table "pleasuring" himself. I personally wasn't particularly freaked out by this but I can certainly see how others might be, not to mention children using the library. Not to mention that it's illegal in a public place.

    Ban what needs to be banned

    It isn't just sleeping. The sleeping people eventually wake up and often engage in inappropriate behavior

    Then let's ban the inappropriate behavior rather than banning sleeping.

    There is often body odor.

    Which has nothing to do with sleeping. Ban people whose hygiene creates a problem for other library users.

    I once saw a homeless man in the Copley Library sitting at a table "pleasuring" himself.

    Also nothing to do with sleeping. I also suspect that you're looking for a different word than "homeless," since without checking property ownership records or leases, you had no way of knowing if this unpleasantly disruptive individual had a home or not.

    Where people should and should not sleep

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    People, homeless and otherwise, should not sleep in a public place the purpose of which is for something other than sleeping. Period. Case closed. If it's OK for them to sleep in a library is it also OK for them to walk in and take a nap in a bank? How about a restaurant? How about at Macy's? I can't even believe there is any argument about this.

    Open the long island shelter

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    Open the long island shelter up Mayor Mr.Walsh , it's called no where to live so they go where they can sleep and function at a certain level of normalcy . Shelters aren't providing 24 refuge , it's tough for a person less fortunate especially with y'all judgemental asses thinking in the box instead of outside it ! Know the population before the speculation!


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    Except he’s already put online enough shelter beds to make up for the closure of the shelter after the island became inaccessible.

    Go to any university

    Go to any university during exam week and see students catching a nap in the library and explain to me why this is such a problem?

    The reason sleeping is prohibited is to prevent sleeping

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    That's it.

    The library is free to all to use their specific services. Not to have a picnic. Not to play cards. And not to sleep.

    I've been going to BPL for almost 40 years. I've never seen anyone, including the homeless, treated disrespectfully by the staff. The homeless are welcome. They just can't sleep like anyone else.

    Years ago I nodded off and a guard tapped on the table or something and woke me and politely told me that sleeping wasn't allowed and moved on. I was a clean-cut bookworm and couldn't possibly have been construed as "undesirable."

    Librarians and libraries have a tough job providing library services today with budget constraints and changing information needs.

    Let's let them do their job and provide the services expected of them.

    Police and fire stations and City Hall are all open to the public. By your reasoning should anyone be able to sleep in these spots?

    As for college libraries? they are serving their constituency and making rules that work for them. And many college libraries do in fact ban sleeping.

    Grad students too?

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    I'm not sure how I would survive 10-12 hours days on campus without the occasional library nap. But I suppose this Ph.D. is making me uncivilized, in your opinion.

    Campus library

    I am guessing your campus library does not admit the general public, only affiliates like yourself who are either employees or have paid for the privilege of using the space. If I'm wrong, please contact city homeless services, I am sure many of their clientele would enjoy a change of scene, especially since most campus libraries stay open well into the evening.

    I think that is precisely the point

    I.e. that the ban on sleeping isn't because there is inherently anything wrong with sleeping in the library, it is to control a nuisance population. Let's just be honest about that and then we can have a better informed discussion if remedies

    This is why libraries prohibit sleeping...

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    There are people that would basically come in and sleep in the library all day, which makes it more difficult for others to use the library. It occupies seating that is meant for people using the library for its intended purposes. They also have people who are drunk (homeless or not) who would come in and "sleep it off," which is another reason why many libraries ban sleeping. It's not because libraries hate homeless people - it's because libraries aren't homeless shelters and they are there to serve a purpose, and that purpose isn't to provide beds.

    This is basically why sleeping in the library is not okay and the policy is there.

    At least...

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    ...at least relative silence IS a universal library rule. Otherwise I'm sure we'd be getting regular library visits from Spare Change Guy and that guy who works Downtown Crossing who makes those noises that sound like a shofar on the high holidays...

    ...unless they're snoring loudly, I'd say let them sleep.

    See two comments above...

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    Yes, let them sleep all day and take up a chair, table, sofa, and whatever seating that was meant for you. And you are at the library for the right reasons.

    Is there a resource constraint?

    Yes, let them sleep all day and take up a chair, table, sofa, and whatever seating that was meant for you.

    It has not been my experience that the Copley Sq. branch runs out of seating. If it does, then by all means kick out the people who are not using the seating for library purposes. But otherwise, let's focus on the actual problem.

    My believe is that people who do not smell bad, who do not exhibit behavior that disturbs other patrons, and who generally follow the norms of behavior in the library ought to be allowed to take a nap, ancillary to their other uses of the library. And that people who do smell bad, or whose behavior reasonably disturbs other patrons, should be asked to leave irrespective of whether or not they are sleeping.

    A colleague of mine who

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    A colleague of mine who worked there as a part of an advanced degree internship informed me that employees are discouraged from calling the police if they witness illegal or aggressive behavior by the homeless because management does not want bad publicity.

    This is nothing new

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    This is not new. There have been large numbers of homeless people using the Copley Library as a hotel for as long as I can remember. It has nothing to do with the remodeling. I see them in other branches too, including the West End branch.

    Well, this is the first time that

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    they have had to hire an outreach worker which tells me that the numbers have increased.

    Yes, there have been homeless people using the BPL but from what I remember through the 80s up till now, the number has appeared to have significantly increased to hire an outreach worker.

    So are the city's other

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    So are the city's other outreach workers being laid off, or are we to believe that the new library redecoration has caused new homelessness? Is Boston attracting New York's literate homeless? I'd love to know where the money is coming from in the library budget to hire a new worker with full bennies who does no actual library work.


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    Well, why don't you call up the Library's director and ask that question and then report back, hokey?

    And the Outreach Worker is doing "actual library work" since many of the homeless have made the BPL their home.

    Redecoration? Huh? You think

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    Redecoration? Huh? You think they put up new wallpaper and pretty pictures of flowers? They redesigned it to better accommodate the needs of current day library patrons.

    Great ideas.

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    Hope they get as much support & funding as they will need. The BPL has needed to do this for a very long time, as it has served as a de facto information clearinghouse and day shelter for the homeless since, at least, the early 1980s.

    Homeless Lives Matter

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    First they gave evicted from Long Island when the bridge collapsed event though ferry boats are available. They were brutalized at North Station by security guards and Transit Police posted humiliating pictures of a homeless man passed out who had soiled himself on facebook. A blind homeless man was mocked and had his cane stolen from him by MBTA ambassadors at Chinatown station. There is a concerted effort to toss them out of the Common and now the libraries. The only time homeless lives matter is one day a year on Thanksgiving when every politician liberal and conservative makes the annual trip to a shelter to get a photo taken serving food to the downtrodden.

    Invite the homeless to your

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    Invite the homeless to your place of employment then. Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

    I stopped sitting a tables at the library because without fail not 5 minutes would go by before a homeless man would sit right next to me, despite there being plenty of other places to sit, then start sidling up to me and breathing heavily. I'm here to read, not be harassed. How many times should I get up and move before I decide, f*ck this I'm just not going to bother researching at the library any longer. Lucky you if you haven't experienced this.

    So females should expect to

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    So females should expect to be harassed at the library? What exactly are you saying here?

    whyaduck, I respect other

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    whyaduck, I respect other people's privacy and personal space when I'm at the library, in a park, in line at the grocery store. That's what we do in a civilized society. Treat those as you wish to be

    How did you know he was homeless?

    before a homeless man would sit right next to me,

    How did you know he was homeless?

    Maybe you meant some other descriptive world? Such as "disheveled," or "bad smelling", or "crazy-looking?"


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    Is anyone else reminded of Infinite Jest?

    What kind of assistance can

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    What kind of assistance can an outreach worker do for the mentally ill and/or addicted homeless in the library? There's no place for this population to go during the day. There's always the emergency room.

    Not a new idea

    Perhaps you should consider doing a google search before asking these questions? Boston isn't the first city to think about or even implement this.

    A social worker can direct people to services and convince them to use those services. That's how they can help the problem. An emergency room, if needed, of course, but sending all these people there is, well, cruel and stupid six ways from Sunday.

    Ever been to the Seattle central library

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    Homelessness is a huge problem in Seattle. They decided not to discourage homeless people from sleeping in the library. Then they had them bathing in the public bathrooms also! A library is not a homeless shelter.

    Homeless in Boston public library

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    The BLP Is a public space. Homeless persons have always been in the space and they should be welcome as any other Boston residenant is. I love that the Mayor has thought to help these citizens in their plight., as we all should be doing. I applause the action!

    They are welcome

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    "The BLP Is a public space. Homeless persons have always been in the space and they should be welcome as any other Boston residenant is. "

    They are welcome in the public space as long as they conduct themselves in a manner befitting of the public space. Providing sleeping space is not a function of the Boston Public Library.


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    There's a huge empty room in BPL you walk through to get from the Dartmouth entrance to the Boylston side. Maybe they could set up beds/night stands. If the BPL is becoming a Pine Street Inn, might as well just make it comfortable for the homeless.

    update from today's Herald

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    "The Boston Public Library is hiring a new troubleshooter to deal with homeless patrons who have been fighting and leaving hypodermic needles in the restrooms "

    Nobody is going to argue that fighting and using hypodermic needles in the library is OK - even if you think sleeping in the library is OK

    Once again, word choice

    "The Boston Public Library is hiring a new troubleshooter to deal with homeless patrons who have been fighting and leaving hypodermic needles in the restrooms "

    How about, "The Boston Public Library is hiring a new troubleshooter to deal with violent patrons who have been fighting, and IV-drug-using patrons who have been leaving hypodermic needles in the restrooms."

    "Homeless" is a stupid euphemism for a bunch of other stuff that we ought to confront head-on.